Author Archives: From Poverty to Power

What’s the likely impact of Brexit on development, aid and Oxfam? Any opportunities amid the…

Following on Tuesday’s retrospective ‘how did this happen?’ piece, some thoughts on the future, starting wide (development in general) then narrowing down to the aid business, and all the way to Oxfam/INGOs. All highly tentative, subject to correction etc in the coming days. One big assumption: I’m assuming that Brexit actually goes ahead. And one pleasant surprise – there are a few opportunities as well …

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If you want to organize an event on How Change Happens this autumn, please let me know

My new book, How Change Happens, is published in October by OUP. I know, I know, there is no sight so craven or humiliating as a writer desperate to promote their book. Any better ideas? The academic summer break is approaching fast, so as a first step, we’re inviting expressions of interest from universities, NGOs or anyone else in being part of the launch.

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What does ‘How Change Happens’ thinking tell us about Brexit?

I was in Lisbon running a ‘How Change Happens’ summer school when the Brexit news came in, so I thought I’d apply an HCH analysis to a seismic event. I’m not an expert on UK politics, so this is bound to be pretty uninformed compared to the avalanche of post mortems in the press, but let’s see where it goes. First up a disclaimer. As Timothy …

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How can a top development thinktank improve its communications?

Well it feels like the world just ended, but thought I’d post this anyway. Life goes on and all that. The title to this post was my exam question for a recent discussion with the comms team at ODI. My initial reaction was ‘you’re top of the heap already, relax’, but then I got to thinking about a couple of areas where ODI, and most …

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Will Bill Gates’ chickens end African poverty?

; Joseph Hanlon and Teresa Smart are unimpressed by a new initiative, but disappointingly avoid all the potential excruciating puns Bill Gates announced on 7 June that he is giving 100,000 chickens to the poor because chickens are “easy to take care of” and a woman with just five hens in Africa can make $1000 per year. For Mozambique where we work, this is remarkable …

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Jo Cox would have been 42 today. Here’s what she was like to work with.

Today would have been Jo Cox’s 42nd birthday. Celebratory events are being held around the world with the hashtag #MoreinCommon, taken from her maiden speech in Parliament: ‘We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us’. My ex-boss Phil Bloomer, who worked with Jo for many years at Oxfam, gave this lovely tribute to an event in Oxford at the weekend. …

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Why do people flee their homes? The answers may surprise you

Yesterday was World Refugee Day and a new UN report put the total number of ‘forcibly displaced’ at 65.3 million. Most of those remained within national boundaries (internally displaced). Oxfam researcher John Magrath summarizes a recent study on the causes of internal displacement Why do people become displaced? That is, forcibly displaced in that they have, or believe they have, no other choice but to …

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RIP Jo Cox

I worked with Jo (Jo Leadbeater as she then was) for several years at Oxfam, where she ended up being head of the advocacy team in Oxfam GB. My main memory is of her relentless optimism and tigerish energy – she bounced around the office. She was an activist’s activist (she didn’t have much time for what she called my ‘beardstroking’). In the words of …

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After the Summit: What next for humanitarianism?

Here’s this week’s vlog – still trying to sort out a better camera and sound, sorry! Spent a fascinating morning recently, discussing the state of humanitarian response with a bunch of fairly senior people from inside ‘the system’ – UN, donors, INGOs etc. It was Chatham House Rule, so that’s as much as I can tell you about the event, but the good news is …

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Meetings with Remarkable Women: Shen Ye, Organic Activist and Chinese Rock Chick

Last post from my recent visit to Beijing If promoting organic farming through Oxfam partner Beijing Farmers Markets sounds a bit worthy, Shen Ye is anything but – she’s one of the funniest people I’ve met in years and during a morning spent visiting farms on the outskirts of the City, was both fascinating and reduced me to repeated fits of giggles, with her mixture of …

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European Governments’ treatment of refugees is doing long term damage to international law

Maya Mailer (@mayamailer), Oxfam’s Head of Humanitarian Policy & Campaigns, reflects on a recent visit to Greece on the day it launches Stand As One, a big new campaign on refugee rights I visited some of Europe’s refugee camps recently. Oxfam was founded in 1942 to help civilians that were starving in Nazi-occupied Greece, and now, more than 70 years later, we are once again active on …

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How Buddhist Tax Accountants and Whistle Blowers can change the world

Max Lawson is back again (he seems to have more time to write now he’s Oxfam International’s policy guy on inequality) to discuss tax morality and a bizarre encounter with a Buddhist accountant A few years ago I went on a hiking holiday with a number of people I didn’t know, and ended up befriending a tax accountant.  He was a very nice man, who had been …

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Where have we got to on adaptive learning, thinking and working politically, doing development…

Props to Dave Algoso (left) and Alan Hudson at Global Integrity for making the effort to compare and contrast 9 different initiatives that are all heading in roughly the right direction in reforming aid Aid, development, and governance practitioners increasingly recognize that change happens through iterative processes (trying, learning, adapting the approach taken, and trying again) as opposed to the linear assumptions that underpin much of …

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How does Change Happen in China?

The honest answer is of course that I have no idea. Given China’s size, complexity, opacity and the language barrier created by being a non-mandarin speaker, a week of meetings and conversations can only leave a string of vague and often contradictory impressions. But here they are anyway: Is China’s development complex or complicated? The standard account of China’s extraordinary transformation is of a triumph …

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